Re: Word choice: Exceptions

Subject: Re: Word choice: Exceptions
From: Ben Kovitz <bkovitz -at- nethere -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 03 Jul 2002 14:09:39 -0700 (PDT)

Colleen MacKenzie wrote:

> Our web-based product displays errors and warnings upon submission of a
> form. The errors & warnings are displayed in a popup modal window that
> receives focus upon display. We are currently referring to this group of
> errors & warnings as "Exceptions." I'm not convinced that this is a
> common word that will be understood by non-technical users. Thoughts?

"Exception" is programmer jargon. It means an "exceptional" event from the
standpoint of program code, which has to be handled outside the normal flow of
the program. Exceptions are not necessarily errors, and errors are not
necessarily exceptions. It's a concept that has to do strictly with program

Not understandable by non-technical users? Damn right. Unless the users are
interested in the internals of the program, talking about exceptions sounds to
me like a goof that programmers often make when designing user interfaces:
talking about an inside-the-software domain to users whose concerns are
entirely in an outside-the-software domain.

Ben Kovitz
Author, Practical Software Requirements: A Manual of Content & Style

Your monthly sponsorship message here reaches more than
5000 technical writers, providing 2,500,000+ monthly impressions.
Contact Eric (ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com) for details and availability.
Save $600: Create great-looking Help files and software demos with
RoboHelp Deluxe. Get RoboHelp and RoboDemo - our new demo software - for one
low price. OR Save $100 on RoboHelp Office in June with our mail-in rebate.
Go to
You are currently subscribed to techwr-l as: archive -at- raycomm -dot- com
To unsubscribe send a blank email to leave-techwr-l-obscured -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Send administrative questions to ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com -dot- Visit for more resources and info.

Word choice: Exceptions: From: MacKenzie, Colleen

Previous by Author: Astoundingly good technical writing: Who Is Fourier?
Next by Author: RE: Documenting incremental releases in a What's New
Previous by Thread: RE: Word choice: Exceptions
Next by Thread: Re: Word choice: Exceptions

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads